2015 Switzerland Tour

Together with the Timber Framers Guild (TfGuild.org) I will be leading a tour in Switzerland May 4 through 14. In this tour, we will see many fine examples of traditional Swiss log and timber building, primarily in the Bernese traditions. We will have the opportunity to see fine examples of Swiss wooden architecture dating back as far as the mid 14th century.

This tour will include a visit to the Ballenberg Open Air Museum (Ballenberg.ch), the old cities of Thun and Bern, and the walking trails in the Simmental, Reichenbach region, Stockental, and Eggiwil (Hauswege.ch  http://www.eggiwil.ch/fileadmin/user_upload/bilder/VVE/Eggiwiler_Hausweg.pdf) as well as a number of other stops highlighting fine examples of the region’s architecture. In addition to the fantastic wooden structures which are the primary focus of this tour, we will also have the opportunity to visit a few of the region’s fantastic old churches -many dating to the 10th century- and castles.

On this tour, we will study the structures in great detail, revealing a great deal about the methods and techniques used. The Ballenberg museum gives us a unique opportunity to study these structures in close detail, which would not be possible otherwise. We will also have the opportunity to visit an active carpenter’s shop as well as the regional carpentry school.

In addition to the primary tour in early May, I have also opened up the opportunity for a tour at the end of the month. Right now I am tentatively planning on May 18 to 27.

You can leave a comment, or contact me at DLBahler@live.com if you are interested in either of these opportunities!

During the time of the tour, I will be in Switzerland for an extensive study of the significant wooden building styles throughout the country. I plan to compile information and photographs in order to put together a book on the subject of Swiss carpentry practices and traditions. Please let me know if you’d like to make a contribution to this project or help with it in any way! I’ll be posting more on this later.

DL Bähler Log and Timber Co.

Now accepting new orders!

We specialize in frame and log systems with a strong Swiss German influence.

Handcrafted Quality.

Timeless Beauty.

Specializing in solid-wood construction, DL Bähler Log and Timber CO. uses time-tested and proven methods and designs to create quality structures that will stand for many years to come. We offer a broad range of services including planning, timber framing, log building, and specialized insulation systems.

Timber Framing

The beauty of a well-designed timber frame is hard to match. We build custom and pre-designed timber frames suited to any situation. Our frames are cut by hand, carefully laid out and joined to ensure a sound structure and a visually appealing space. We put an emphasis on strong proportions that not only yield secure frames, but also create attractive and inviting spaces.

We rely heavily on frame designs and joinery rooted in Swiss and German traditions. These frames are efficiently designed, minimizing the labor required to create each frame while still yielding a striking appearance.

Log Building

Log cabins and log homes are wonderful, warm, and rustic. There is some strong and comfortable about a log building that you just can’t copy. We build custom designed log structures and also offer pre-made kits that are easy to put together.

Like our timber frames, our log buildings are deeply rooted in Swiss tradition. We specialize in a traditional Alpine style of log construction. Chinkless, hassle-free. We offer both square and round log construction.

Frame-and-Plank Construction

Frame and plank construction is like a hybrid of log and timber building. While we offer stand-alone timber frames that can be wrapped and enclosed in a number of ways, we specialize in complete timber packages with heavy timber frames filled with solid wood planks to enclose the walls. This system is much more flexible than log building, allowing for more design possibilities.

Insulation Systems

Our Log buildings and Frame-and-Plank walls systems come packaged as a complete enclosure system that requires no additional cladding of insulation of any kind. However, to increase the performance of homes built in these styles we do offer a number of specialized insulation packages designed for the special requirements of these buildings. These systems add an insulating envelope to the interior of the structure. Stand-alone frames are sold alone, enclosing and insulating is left to the General Contractor in charge.

Roof Envelopes

We also specialize in high-performance thermal roof systems. These systems involve a double-roof system that dramatically increases the efficiency of the structure and increases the service life of the roof covering. These packages are available for any of our log and timber structures. We also offer this special service for application to any new or existing structure.

Cabin Packages

We offer a selection of pre-designed log and timber cabin packages.

Swiss Travels

I have made a preliminary map of my trip to Switzerland. I am sure it will be changed quite a bit as I make preparations, but here is what I am working from. This is the main study portion of my trip.

These are the major stops that I have planned, intending to spend about a day at each location to travel out and explore the architecture in each region. This route should take me through all of the major building cultures.

First is the Timber Framers Guild tour, with the primary stops of Bern-Thun-Ballenberg-Langnau-Sumiswald-and back to Bern.

Then is the Western portion of my travels. From Bern to Jerisberghof (a museum west of Bern) then to Murten (Morat), Lausanne, a quick run to Geneva, then to Montreux.

Then is the Canton of Wallis, including travels through St Maurice, Martigny, Visp (maybe down to Zermatt) and to Brigg.

From there I travel through southern Switzerland, first to Andermatt (Canton Uri) then Bellinzona in Ticino, back to Andermatt to head toward Chur in Canton Graubünden.

Then I will travel to Central Switzerland, where I will visit Pfäffikon, Arth-Goldau, Schwyz, and Zug.

Then it is eastern Switzerland, first to Zürich then on to St. Gallen, some villages in Appenzell, then to Romanshorn, Konstanz, Frauenfeld, Winterthur, and Schaffhausen before heading back to Zürich.

Then I will travel across the Swiss plateau to track the change from the eastern to western style. First to Brugg, then Aarau, and Olten before detouring through Central Switzerland to visit Sursee and Luzern, before continuing out across the Swiss Plateau to visit Langenthal, Solothurn, and Basel.

From there, I will travel through the Jura mountains. First to Delemont, then La Chaux de-Fonds, Neuchatel, and Biell/Bienne. From there I will return to Bern then east to Burgdorf and Herzogenbuchsee before returning to Zürich to head home.

This should give me about 50 days, perhaps a few more, or travel.

The hope here is that my planned route will bring me across examples of all of the country’s important rural styles. I can’t possibly hope to include every variation in my trip but this should get me a great deal of information.

In addition, the route is planned to follow the rail lines throughout the country.

Don’t forget, you can help me make this project successful! Please contribute today, and reserve your copy of my book


Swiss Tour Schedule

Tentatively planned for the last 2 weeks of May 2015, here is a look at our planned tour schedule:

Day 1: Participants meet up in Bern, Switzerland’s capital city. From there, we will look briefly at the Altstadt, the Bundeshaus (capitol building) the Münster (the Gothic Cathedral) and the old old timber framed houses in the Mattequartier. We’ll also stop by the Neubrügg, a 15th c. wooden bridge on the city’s northern edge. Then We’ll stop in at the village of Münsingen and see the 14th century Wyhus (Gasthof Bären). From there, we will head off to the City of Thun at the base of the Alps.

Day 2: Thun and Spiez. We’ll tour through the old town of Thun, including the old stone and wooden architecture. We’ll stop in to see Schloss Thun, a Burgundian castle first built in 1190 and taking on its current form through a series of renovations ending in 1436. Very impressive wooden framing of the castle roof and 5 floors. In Spiez we will see a number of old structures, but the highlight here will be the Castle and its church. Schloss Spiez was built over a long period of time. The original tower dates to the 10th century, while parts of the palace were built in the 17th century with renovations up until the early 19th century. What is remarkable about this castle is that when additions were built, the old sections were left in their original state and never updated, making this castle a unique window into different periods of history. The Schlosskirche (castle church) was built in the mid 10th century, built on the foundations of an earlier 8th century church. The church today reflects its original 10th century appearance (after a restoration undertaken in 1949). The Church is part of a network of 12 churches in the region built by a Burgundian king in the 10th century.

Day 3: Reichenbach. We will take the train to the Village of Reichenbach, in the Kandertal between Spiez and Frutigen. Here we will walk part of the Reichenbacher Häuserweg, a self-guided tour of historically significant and architecturally impressive structures in the community. Mostly these are Blockbau, or log built, houses though there are some timber frame and hybrid forms as well. We also plan to visit the shop of a log builder on this day.

Day 4: Simmental. We will take the train to Wimmis and set out on the Simmentaler Hausweg, an extensive self-guided tour of structures in the Lower Simme valley. We will also spend time in the village of Erlenbach to observe the village’s church complete with extensive medieval murals and an impressive framed walkway. We also plan to visit the Agensteinhaus, an impressive structure that houses the local museum. Most structures in this region are hybrid structures incorporating log and timber features.

Day 5: Region Thun. A busy day, we will stop in the village of Amsoldingen just to the west of Thun and see a number of old structures including the original style of the region, the Tätschdachhaus, which has mostly disappeared today in favor of northern Bernese style structures. We will also see the 9th century romanesque church, built by the same patron as the Spiez church. From there we will head to the village of Blumenstein and take the Stockentaler Hausweg, a tour of the region’s historic structures. We’ll stop by Wattenwil and look at a few structures in the village, then head to Heiligenschwendi (just northeast of Thun) and take the Spycherweg Heiligenschwendi, a tour of granaries and oven houses. Most of the structures on this tour will be timber frames that exhibit a significant log influence. A style unique to this small region.

Day 6: Ballenberg. We’ll take the train east along the lakes Thun and Brienz, a wonderful trip through the mountains, and go to the Ballenberg Museum. This is an outdoor museum with over 100 historic structures collected from all over Switzerland, set up to demonstrate life as it used to be in different periods and places of the country’s history. This will give us a unique opportunity to study a number of interesting structures in close detail. We won’t be able to cover everything in one day, so we’ll head back to Ballenberg in…

Day 7. We’ll catch what we missed at Ballenberg, then take some time to visit the villages of Hofstetten and Brienz before taking the train to Interlaken. There we’ll see a number of old structures, and head off to a local school for young carpenters.

Day 8: Langnau Im Emmental: We’ll head to the village of Langnau, where we’ll stay for the next few days. Once we’ve settled in, we’ll head out to the nearby village of Eggiwil to take the Eggiwiler Hausweg, another tour of old houses. The architecture here, even though just a few miles away, is far different than the region around Thun. These structures are mostly timber frames with a few log/timber hybrids and a few log structures scattered here and there. When we are done, we’ll head back to Langnau and spend the rest of the day looking at the architecture in that village.

Day 9: Oberemmental. We’ll head out to the village of Schangnau by way of Trubschachen and Escholzmatt (the latter is in the neighboring Canton Luzern) We’ll study a number of interesting structures in the village of Schangnau and head back the way we came, taking some time in Escholzmatt to see a few buildings in the style of Luzern, and in Trubschachen to see some more structures in the style of the Upper Emmental.

Day 10: We’ll head north to Sumiswald. There we will see examples of the style of the Lower Emmental, very large and impressive timber frames. We’ll also stop by the hamlets of Gammental and Trachselwald to see some examples of more rural architecture, as well as take time to visit Trachselwald’s free access castle. From there, we will head back to Bern

Day 11: Bern. We’ll see some more of the city of Bern, although the official tour is over at this point.

2015 Switzerland Tour

I have been working with the Timber Framers Guild, planning a guild tour of Switzerland in 2015. I posted a little bit earlier, I’d like now to add some more details.

This is just a preliminary announcement, the specifics could change in the coming month or two.

Although Switzerland is a small country, it’s architecture is incredibly diverse. We can’t hope to cover the whole country in any meaningful way. So I have chosen to focus on the region that I know best: the Canton of Bern.

We are right now looking at an official tour of 11 or 12 days. During this time we will survey traditional architecture throughout the Canton, ranging from the log houses of the Berner Oberland to the impressive timber framed farmhouses of the Emmental. Tour highlights will include the villages of Sigriswil, Eggiwil, Erlenbach, Reichenbach, and many others, as well as the Castles of Thun and Spiez and the 16th century Neubrügge, a wooden bridge north of the City of Bern. The highpoint of the tour will be the visit to the Ballenberg Museum, featuring over 100 building from all over Switzerland.

Please let me know if you have any interest in taking part in this tour!


New Project

The plans are in place, arrangements are being made.

I plan to return to Switzerland in 2015 to do some extensive travelling throughout the country. This time, I aim to see much more than just a few parts of Canton Bern. I hope to travel through all of the 26 Cantons and photograph the traditional architecture of each region.

The plan is to write a book, or rather a series of short books, on Swiss Rural architecture, particularly wooden building styles. I want to produce something that is informative, enjoyable, and easy to approach. But at the same time I want to make it useful. For this to happen, I need to actually go there and get lots of pictures. I reckon I will have spend about 2 months travelling to get this done.

To help in my efforts, I’ve started a crowdfunding campaign. It’s an expensive country and I could really use some help. So please, lend a hand and help get this project off the ground.


In connection with this effort, the Timber Framers Guild (TFGuild.org) is tentatively planning a guild tour of Switzerland at the end of May 2015. I’ll be leading this tour. I’ll fill you in as more details are settled.

David L Bähler

What’s On the Agenda for 2014?

So what’s ahead for 2014?

Well, so far, snow, cold, wind, snow, wind, cold, and snow…

It’s been a looooong winter, and I haven’t been able to get very much done outside. I have, however, had a lot of time to continue putting together some materials for publication. I’ve been working on my book and a few side projects that go along with it.

Right now I’m preparing a short pamphlet on roof framing. This is a fairly easy subject to put down on paper and one I think can be more quickly grasped by those used to the North American ways of framing.

I’m also working on the planning stage of the next building, a barn. I’ll have a post about this project soon.

Workshops will be available later on, but the weather has pushed everything back a little bit. Right now, I’ve got a few projects to wrap up then it will be maple syrup season. That will keep me busy for a few weeks.

I hope to put out a definitive schedule within the next month. Please contact me if you have any interest in coming down here. Right now, I am able to plan my schedule to fit your needs to some degree. Later this will not be possible.